With Paris only a few hours away from London I’m surprised that I’ve never seen Paris in winter. So a few at the end of last year (I know I’m a little late posting!) some friends and I decided to cross the channel for a day and explore the city (as best as one can in a day) outside of its busiest summer season and experience the festive cheer. Luckily we didn’t go with plan A for travelling around Paris (=totally winging it on the day) and instead I had devised a rough plan of the day, mostly to be spent shopping at the Arc di Triomph and the Christmas markets, but stopping off at some of the usual touristy hotspots along the way. I would HIGHLY recommend using the ratp journey planner website beforehand which is equivalent to London’s TfL site– as it maps out how to get from one station/landmark to another, clearly stating any changes of rail lines etc. The last thing I wanted to do on a day trip is to waste time deciphering which route to take to our next destination at each station. It completely took out any stress of making sure you have enough time to get back to the Gar du Nord for the train back home. After an early start to the day and breakfast on the Eurostar we decided to make brunch our first stop at the Latin Quarter (Metro stop; St Germain de pres). The area there for me was quintessentially “French”, lined with cobbled pedestrian only streets flowing with mellow Parisian ambience and many independent shops selling hats, jewellery, books, antiques etc. Food places were aplenty and we stopped by for omelettes and croissants. There was a small Christmas market set out along here too which was still opening up as we were walking by, but it was nice being able to chat with the stallholders that were open before things got busier during the day.
After a quick flurry round the Eiffel Tower, the Champs-Elysées was our last stop, and really I was most looking forwards to the Christmas markets but after an hour long diversion in Sephora we weren’t left with very long to take a look. The Christmas Market on the lit up Champs-Elysées runs from the middle of November till the start of January each year and is made up of loads and loads of wooden chalets set up along the Champs-Elysées to the Place de la Concorde and offers a great selection of food, hand-made, decorations, gifts and toys. One thing to bear in mind here however is it’s a pickpocket hotspot so do keep valuables near and out of sight, particularly with the area being very congested.
With all Christmassy stuff done with and time running short we had to head back to the station, not without suffering a very packed train ride (Parisians really haven’t sorted out their- “please move down the carriage” move yet!!) back to the Gar du Nord and home. I’d never been to Paris with friends- it’s always been with family or as school excursions so it was lovely just strolling the win ding cobbled streets of Paris, awaiting what stirs around each corner. My memories have always been of Paris, roads lit in sunshine, blue skies and sitting on the Batobus when younger and then sadly the beggars and scammers as I grew older. Nonetheless it was a lovely seeing Paris in the winter and would highly recommend it even as a day out somewhere different.